Tom's Britain - Exploring places of interest and things to do in England, Wales & Scotland

11 April 2016

Meet the Chillingham Cattle

Up a rough track, through a field, over a bridge and through a gate, your author finds Ellie Crossley - the first female warden of the Chillingham wild cattle - waiting patiently in her shed. From Easter to October, Ellie offers the chance to meet the Chillingham wild cattle, England's last herd of wild cows who have lived separately from the rest of the world in a secret park in the Northumberland hills for 800 years.

Once owned by the lords of Chillingham Castle - still standing just a few field away - the cattle are now in the care of the Chillingham Wild Cattle Association,  and the only way to see them is via one of Ellie's regular £8 safaris, either on foot or in a tiny off-roader. The visits occasionally offer the chance to watch a real bullfight or see a newborn calf, but your author was just as content to watch these great beasts scratching off their winter coats and happily munching grass on a spring morning, just as they have been doing for centuries.

The herd has lived and died in these fields with minimal interference from humans - save the odd Victorian shooting party - since the 1300s. Calves are freeborn without the help of their keepers and they undergo no veterinary procedures. It's amazing to think that these animals have managed to survive in isolation from the herds of domestic cows who roam the rest of England's millions of acres of cattle pasture for so long.

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1 comment:

  1. Interesting looking cows. I'd be a bit wary of getting to close to those horns